Background and objectives: Many people with hepatitis C receive all or most of their care from primary care physicians, yet little information exists about the practice patterns, knowledge, and beliefs and attitudes of family physicians related to hepatitis C.
Methods: We mailed a written survey to a random sample of active members of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Results: Nearly all respondents (94%) reported at least one patient with hepatitis C in their practice, and 66% had diagnosed at least one new case of hepatitis C in the past year. While most respondents (85%) correctly identified common hepatitis C risk factors, only 63% reported routinely asking patients about those risk factors. Respondents (74%) preferred to involve specialists in the care of hepatitis C patients, but half (50%) reported barriers to referral. A small number (5%) of respondents have prescribed antiviral medication within the past year. Most respondents think family physicians should screen (94%), diagnose (98%), and provide general care (69%) for hepatitis C patients.
Conclusions: Family physicians know how to identify high-risk people and test for hepatitis C. Most prefer to refer patients with hepatitis C to specialists for workup and treatment but report frequent barriers to those referrals.